Helping Children with Incarcerated Parents

The Pelipost Team had a busy holiday season from our Giving Tuesday campaign to sponsoring the XO Factor, Inc. Adopt-A-Family event. Pelipost is proud to give back to multiple organizations who help families impacted by incarceration.

Did you know….

1-in-28 American children have an incarcerated parent.

Making a Difference

Bethany McNeil is the founder of XO Factor, Inc., a non-profit organization with a mission to assist men, women, children, and families in rebuilding their lives after incarceration. With that being said, they are able to provide returning citizens with the services, support, and skills needed to become employed and self-sufficient.

Our CEO, Joseph Calderon, at the XO Factor, Inc. Adopt-A-Family Event.

Adopt-A-Family Event

Pelipost was a proud sponsor of the XO Factor, Inc. Adopt-A-Family event which provides children with gifts from their incarcerated parents. The Pelipost Team attended the event on December 16, 2019 to wrap gifts that would ultimately be delivered to children during the holidays.

Sponsors of the Adopt-A-Family Event.
The Pelipost Team wrapping gifts at the Adopt-A-Family Event.

Our CEO, Joseph Calderon, and our COO, Becky Calderon, shared their personal story with incarceration and how it effects all parties involved. They also brought awareness to the importance of staying connected to your incarcerated loved ones. Photos are a great way to share life’s special moments.

It brought great joy to our hearts to connect with families who have used XO Factor as a resource to better their lives upon release. Listening to the speakers share their experiences with recidivism and how they’ve made a point to give back to the community was amazing. We left the event truly inspired and ready to make an even bigger difference in 2020. Thank you XO Factor for all your great work in our community!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The Bigger Picture: Motivation

Pelipost is more than an app devoted to printing pictures for your incarcerated loved ones. We believe in the importance of family reintegration far exceeds the physical product in hand. REMAINING CONNECTED is the BIGGER PICTURE. 

In this second post in our two-part blog series we continue chatting with our co-founder, Becky Calderon, and explore the significant importance PRINTED photos had with motivation in mind. Make sure to check out Part 1 of the blog series also!

“Give me a reason to fight!”

-Becky Calderon

Preventing Recidivism From Prison

Did you know the United States has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world? Roughly 76% of our incarcerated loved ones return to prison within the first five years of their release. The reasons vary from person to person but here are some common reasons for recidivism:

  • Lack of Employment- due to criminal record or lack of employable skills
  • Incarceration doesn’t fix the addiction (trauma coping)
  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Overwhelmed by Reintegration into Society
  • Influences and Lifestyle Choices

When I was in the maximum-security prison, I shared a cell with 8 other women. We were each in there for a variety of reasons but we all had one thing in common: Trauma. We are all suffering from some form of unspoken trauma rooted at the core of our identities. For some, these scenarios lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms (poor decision making, addiction, co-dependent relationships, etc) and if left unresolved continue to repeat themselves.

With that said, most of the incarcerated individuals I shared space with were familiar with life behind bars. It wasn’t their first experience and it wouldn’t be there last either. To my surprise, there were so many mothers sharing the same facility as their adult daughters. These families grow old together behind bars while their children and grandchildren await their return. Unfortunately, nothing changes when they are released so they return over and over again.

Photos Reminded Me of My Motivation

I remember vividly thinking: “I REFUSE to end up back in here and end my life on a negative note.” As much as photos validated my life outside of prison…. they also reminded me that I had a reason to fight for a better life once I was released.

The most painful day of my life wasn’t the day I was sentenced… it was actually the day of my son’s graduation from college. For me to be in prison on that day was the ultimate punishment. All his little life, I only had one goal! To see him succeed into adulthood and graduate college. Every little award ceremony, sports game, you name it…. I was in attendance taking photos and beaming with pride. To miss Joseph’s college graduation day was like MISSING THE ULTIMATE REWARD. Thus, you can imagine the importance having those photos from that day would have on my spirit.

Joe’s College Graduation with his Grandparents

I used pictures as the foundational reminder to do the WORK while I was doing my time. What is ‘Work’, you ask? There are countless programs, intensive support groups and resources available while you’re in prison. These programs are free but there is one stipulation: YOU HAVE TO WANT HELP to GET HELP! I remember one program that really made me deal with some heavy things from my past. I had to face my childhood trauma head on and it was painful. People don’t want to dig that deep because it hurts. If I wanted to get well and prepare for a healthy life outside of prison, I knew I needed to truly seek healing in my heart. Because of my son’s involvement (through photos, calls and visits) I remained motivated to use my time in prison to prepare for a healthier life outside. Some of my “cellies” didn’t have the same family support and their lack of motivation was a result. Without encouragement, nothing motivates them to change.

My Prison Story Led Me to Purpose

Do I regret my choices? Sure. However, looking back, I can honestly say I am grateful for my time in prison. It changed my life. Prison led me to even greater purpose. Without my prison experience, Joseph never would have had the idea for Pelipost. I wouldn’t be living the good, healthy, sober life I’m living now and for that I don’t regret a single day.

With that said, you might speculate that I just walked out of prison and lived happily ever after. That would be a lie. I got out in May and hit rock bottom by October. I was dealing with the consequences of my choices in real life and it hurt. My drinking returned, my marriage was unrepairable, and I was dependent on my parents to support me. The thing they don’t prepare you for with your release… is that you still COME OUT A FAILURE. Then again, thanks to the resources I received in prison… I knew I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE and that rock-bottom moment was the most humbling, life-altering reminder that I was worth the fight! Seven years later… I’m living a life I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams. Your incarcerated loved one could be too, just encourage them to push through and do the WORK!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 1)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those impacted inside and outside of incarceration called PeliPeople. In honor of this series launch we are sharing our own story first

A message from our CEO: Joseph Calderon

If there is one truth I can share with you, it is this:  there is redemption and success on the other side of doing time.  Our story is proof. Pelipost was founded in 2015 by myself, Joe Calderon, and my mom, Becky. We truly believe our success wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for our personal experiences of one, having an incarcerated loved one; and two, BEING an incarcerated loved one.  Most don’t know the story that led to the start of Pelipost and we believe now is the greatest time to share. So we will begin here with: Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration.

The Beginning of it All

“When you feel the weight of reality that each year may be your last… You fight for your life, as best as you can.”

– Becky Calderon

Imagine with me for a moment… You’re married and just gave birth to your first child. Life is good. Motherhood is magical. You have this beautiful little baby and you can’t help but dream of what life will look like with your family in 10, 20, 50 years even. THEN… your baby is one month old and you’re in the doctor’s office being given the heaviest news of your life. This is where my story begins, thankfully, this is not where my story ends. 

Becky's Story Inside Incarceration. Becky with Joe, as a baby.
Becky and Baby Joe. Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration

In February of 1989, one month after my son’s (Joseph) birth, I received a terminal cancer diagnosis. All of my hopes of one day having a big family came to an end that day. Another pregnancy would end my life, so Joe was an instant only child. The doctors didn’t expect me to live past Joe’s kindergarten year. Am I now ever so grateful they were wrong. I spent the next 12 years going through 13 surgeries, radiation, chemo, fighting for my life. I did all of this while also juggling motherhood, marriage, and work. It was not an easy journey, but it was worth it.

When you feel the weight of reality that each year may be your last… You fight for your life, as best as you can. At least, in my case, I did. I decided that my son was going to remember me no matter what. It was my ultimate purpose to give him the best childhood any kid could ask for. 

The Cancer Returns

The cancer came back during Joe’s middle school years. In my desperation to provide a more memorable experience for my family in my ‘last days’, I made some poor decisions. These choices would result in a shortcut to fund a higher quality of life. We started taking more vacations, buying gifts, trying to create as many happy memories as possible. It took about 5 years before my choices caught up to me. 

By the time everything came out, Joseph was in his first year of college. Contrary to my doctor’s prognosis, I had lived way past his kindergarten graduation at this point, and the life I had funded in those earlier, memorable, years had finally caught up to me. We lost our home during the recession. My marriage had collapsed. The body I was given, wouldn’t stop failing me. Legal troubles were overflowing and I became an alcoholic. Thank God, Joe’s dad was the best dad in the world and remained Joe’s rock through it all. 

Grave Before the Gavel

From charge to sentencing, the process took roughly three years. I just wanted to die, at that point. During those three long years, life was an intoxicated blur. In my mind, I thought I kept it all hidden and concealed from Joe, but he was too smart for that. Even still, he never turned his back on me. He couldn’t comprehend the powerless battle I was fighting with cancer, coupled with the disease of alcoholism. However, he never stopped encouraging me to fight with all I had. He knew I loved him more than life but I was losing the perseverance to stay in the game.

I kept putting off my court dates and delaying the inevitable. In reality, I was expecting to meet the grave before meeting the judge’s gavel. For some reason, my life kept ticking. What Joe and I didn’t realize, at the time, was how prison would completely save my life, instead of helping to end it…

Becky's Story Inside InCarceration-   
Becky and Joe at his High School Graduation.
Becky and Joe at his high school graduation. Becky’s story Inside Incarceration

Want to read more about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration? Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story soon!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.